I love movies. I love writing about them. Hope you like reading what I write.
Thanks to a lack of knowledge of the difficulties between this film’s distributors and Cineworld, I had no idea that my second most anticipated movie of this year was even out until far too recently. Like William Shatner’s Buck Murdoch from Airplane II, I’m left asking “Why the hell aren’t I notified about these things?”
The Hateful Eight, written & directed by Quentin Tarantino, is a three hour western in the snow telling the story of a group of distrust-worthy sorts stuck in a haberdashery in the middle of a Wyoming mountain blizzard, just after the Civil War.
Note “three hour”. Note “Tarantino”. To those unfamiliar with Quentin’s excesses in dialogue, violence and various stylistic tropes taken from cinema’s past, this is a movie to daunt you if ever there was one.
Since this is my first Tarantino review, you will forgive me if I make something of a section of this review dedicated to my opinion of the man’s oeuvre.
Mr Tarantino is ultimately a marmite director. One loves him, or one hates him. I have to say that, in terms of my only real reference to him that I have, that being his ability to make movies, I love him. I don’t find any of his movies NOT entertaining or stupid. I feel there is a genuine intelligence behind his use of violence, his utterly brilliant dialogue and his love for his medium surpassing many working in it.
With that said, I don’t think I could watch his films every day. With the exception of Resevoir Dogs (which I would say is the place to start watching his movies from), Tarantino does like to go overboard in the length department. While Django Unchained is a genuinely great movie and probably his most important work in terms of content rather than impact, I do think it does end a few too many times. And did Jackie Brown need to be a whole 154 minutes? Probably not. (Don’t get me wrong, those movies are awesome!)
There are more things I would like to say about QT and his work, especially in relation to recent events involving the police unions of America, but I’ll leave that to another blog post. Now, I’ll get on with the review.
The team behind this movie decided to use Ultra Panavision lenses that have not been used for around 60 years, which provide a huge epic feel similar to Ben Hur and other epics of that time period. This may seem a little backwards on the surface, considering this movie takes place largely within one location. Why go to all the effort of using these beautiful cameras if you’re basically shooting a play? Well, you’d be surprised how profoundly cinematic an interior close up can be through this glass. I know that traditionalists will be irritated that I did not review this film in its 70mm format, but even on digital, this is definitely one of the most beautiful looking movies of the year so far, especially when action goes outside to the wide, white landscapes of Wyoming.
And since we’re in the same place for such a long time, the cast had better be good. I mentioned that this film seemed like a play and these excellent actors provide the feeling of purity similar to an original cast production. Not one bad performance was given by any of them. Not one line of Tarantino’s once again delicious dialogue was badly spoken.
Story-wise, The Hateful Eight is pretty solid. The premise involving bounty hunters and cowboys and old generals all distrusting one another is obviously as western as they come, but the tightness of it all feels quite Hitchcockian. The pacing at times is a little off. One must be prepared for a LOT of talking before anything gets done. Yet once things get done, they really get done.
The violence is once again gloriously over the top once it comes. I am of the opinion that no matter how violent a movie is, if it can relate to the reality of the piece without it being the centre of our attention, I am fine with it. I understand not everyone has the same appetite for blood that I do, so I give a fair warning that there is a considerable amount of it.
Does this movie have flaws? Well, like I said, the pacing feels a little off at times as usual in a Tarantino flick and the actions of some of the characters, which I know are described as Hateful, can be a little questionable. One could probably make a version of this movie with a few of the key players, which are still really, really well written, left out. (Of course, the title would have to be changed appropriately to accommodate the reduction in cast size.)
I and some more legitimate critics feel that with Django and this movie, Tarantino has grown a political conscious in his writing and directing. Whether that was always there in his previous work, I do not know, but it is certainly more present here. I also don’t know whether this is a direct reaction to his critics who see nothing but a talented man wasting his time on “lesser films”. It wouldn’t be the first time that a meta-cinematic touch has been inserted (remember the burning cinema filled with Nazis of Inglorious Bastards).
But that’s a story for another day. Sufficed to say, this is a highly intelligent movie which, though lagging a little at times and could do with a little fan-editing, I think could fit easily in the top half of the filmography of one of my favourite modern directors.
Before the recommended scenario, I should give one for the newbies to his work. Watch The Hateful Eight once you are familiar with his style, warts and all.
Recommended Scenario (For Everyone Else): When you wanna watch Django Unchained meets 12 Angry Men meets The Revenant.